WordPress: Default Personal Digital Home (PDH)

Yin-Yang: WordPress Digital Home

Woohoo! I found out yesterday that one of the initiatives I want to work on at Automattic is already being promoted by an Automattic employee. 🙂 That’s fantastic, because that means there will be someone in the company who’s already interested in the initiative, someone I can work with to refine the idea and help move it forward. But wait a minute…

Arrrggh! Someone suggested MY idea already. 😦 He mentioned it first. He already has a vision for what it should be, and might not agree with or like my vision of HIS idea. He is already working for Automattic and I’m not there yet. Hmmmm…

yin-yangSuch is the yin-yang of innovation. There are often near-simultaneous discoveries or inventions because people stand on the shoulders of those who went before them, and many factors in the world around us lead multiple people to go down similar paths and work on addressing the same unmet needs.

So what initiative or idea am I talking about? What new Automattic product do I think will have a huge impact and be amazingly beneficial to people globally? What concept involving WordPress has yin-yang, dark-light, cold-warm aspects that need to be carefully considered and skillfully balanced? This initiative is the:

WordPress Personal Digital Home (PDH).

There are three basic questions that need to be answered before getting into details of the WordPress PDH. Those questions are:

  • What Is A Personal Digital Home?
  • Why Have A Personal Digital Home?
  • Why Is WordPress The Best Default For A Personal Digital Home?

What Is A Personal Digital Home?

The Automattician who is already thinking and talking about a digital home is Chris Hardie. Google searches indicate he first spoke about his digital home concept at the WordCamp in Dayton, Ohio, USA, in March 2016. He also published “digital home” posts in September 2015 and January 2016, and he says it’s “a topic I’ve thought about for a long time.” He recommends using WordPress as the digital home for “your online creations.”WordCamp Dayton

So Chris appears to be approaching the digital home primarily from an online content control aspect, informed, no doubt, by his 17 years of running a web development agency and seeing what happens long term with websites and web content.

My approach and vision for the PDH is quite a bit broader than just online content control, although that’s one place to start. And Chris may have much bigger things in mind. I look forward to talking with him soon about PDH to find out more about his long term vision! 🙂

My definition of the PDH is: “the starting point for your digital life.”

WordPress Personal Digital Home, tagline

In some ways, that’s somewhat Mark Zuckerberg’s unspoken tagline or goal for Facebook, but profit is much more of a driver for FB than for Automattic. And my tagline is only half of Facebook’s game plan. The complete unwritten objective for FB seems to be “the starting point and ending point for your digital life [as well as the stuff in-between].”

In a future post I’ll dive into what the starting point for your digital life might look like. But the big picture is that the WordPress PDH, for many people, will be the starting point for their digital lives for many years, if not most of their lives.

Why Have A Personal Digital Home?

A draft version of “Reasons To Have a PDH” includes:

  • Learn website development and online technologies.
  • One Site To Rule Them All: have a pointer to other online presences and tools.
  • Own and manage your data, which includes the “control your online content” aspect that Chris Hardie is focusing on.
  • Help launch and manage your personal residual revenue ventures.
  • Develop and manage your work-knowledge portfolio and job resume.
  • Provide a central point for managing your relationships and networks.
  • Develop long term SEO (search engine optimization) for topics of importance to you.

attentionThe underlying primary reason to have a PDH is to help you own and manage your data (highly interrelated with another of my projects called OwnYourData, OYD). It will also help you manage your digital profile and your attention which, as Kevin Kelly points out, is becoming “the only true scarcity.”

“…the advertising industry…right now is the fundamental engine for most of the internet wealth and all the businesses from Google to Facebook. Their billions are coming basically from advertising. I think it’s going to be very ripe for destruction because, in a curious way when we have this abundance of materials, commodity, everything, just super abundance, that the only scarcity we have is human attention, which is limited.

We’re all limited to 24 hours a day. Even more curiously, we have to spend it every day. We can’t bank it up. If that’s the only true scarcity, and the true value in this new economy. It’s kind of curious that we give away so much of our attention for nothing. I see an opportunity where people will start charging to watch an ad, charging to read someone’s email, charging to see this thing…”

Of course, much of this is years down the road, but that’s ok, because it will take years of developing and experimenting to refine the PDH concept and to build the various pieces of it.

Reasons to have a PDH will be more fully explored in future posts.

Why Is WordPress The Best Default For A Personal Digital Home?

There are many reasons WordPress will be the best default for PDHs, but the three below are the primary ones.

  1. WordPress has done the best job of figuring out what it takes to get people online, as shown by the statistic that it powers over 25% of the world’s websites.
  2. WordPress is open source.
  3. b corpAutomattic’s raison d’être is giving people an online voice, and their primary driving force is not just making a profit. I don’t think they’re legally a B corporation, but from an intent and operational standpoint, they feel like a B corp. If a corporation is going to be a vital part of PDHs, it needs to be a B corp, and I think Matt Mullenweg will make Automattic a B corp if they do an IPO.

WordPress will not provide an ideal PDH for everyone. That’s ok — there are many reasons to avoid monocultures. Default doesn’t mean “the only choice.” A default is just the starting point. Alternative PDHs can and will be developed. Just like people can and do use software other than WordPress to power their websites. But for many people, in spite of all the alternatives, WordPress is their on-ramp to having their own website and to controlling their online presence and voice.

Let’s develop an awesome WordPress PDH that will be a default starting point for people’s digital lives!


Other posts related to IndieWeb and Personal Digital Home

WordPress: Default Personal Digital Home (PDH)” — today’s post
WordPress Personal Digital Home, Part 2: In The Year 2036
WordPress Personal Digital Home, Part 3: Pick A Problem
WordPress Personal Digital Home, Part 4: Baby Steps
IndieWeb Summit 2017 & WordPress PDH
Coder Cooperative June 20th Meetup: IndieWeb And Personal Digital Home
IndieWeb and PDH: Talking Points For Coder Cooperative June 20 Meetup
Day-After Report: June 20 Coder Cooperative, IndieWeb & PDH


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